Spain: New Internet Scam Targets German Tourists Heading for Palma de Mallorca

18 November 2022 - Marta Arroyo Vázquez

Numerous people have contacted our law firm seeking legal assistance after having fallen victim to a certain scam. The victims of this scam were all German-speaking foreigners who wished to travel to Palma de Mallorca for a short holiday. They had contacted holiday rental agencies via Internet.

After exchanging multiple emails in German in order to formalise the corresponding rental agreements for the houses and villas in Palma, they made bank transfers to the account number(s) indicated in the respective agreements. Some paid EUR 3,000.00, others up to EUR 8,000.00. The modus operandi, however, remained the same.

The victims discovered the scam once they landed in Palma de Mallorca and found out that the addresses of the supposedly reserved properties did not exist. Some victims reported the scam to the local Palma de Mallorca police. However, as we subsequently learned, most of cases in which complaints were automatically closed or shelved without the victims’ knowledge. Why would the Spanish police act this way? From the perspective of the police, they do not have the necessary authority to deal with these cases, as the crimes were committed via Internet. The Spanish police consider the crime to have taken place when the victims were located in Germany rather than in Spain and, since the victims were in Germany when the agreements were formalised or signed and payment was made. The Spanish police argue that the complaints should, thus, be filed in Germany and not in Spain.

That said, in all these cases there is a strong link to Spain which justifies criminal prosecution in this country: the bank accounts to which the victims made the transfers belong to Spanish banks which are located in Spain. This means it is actually far easier for the Spanish police and judicial authorities to get the Spanish bank to identify the holder(s) of the bank accounts to which the fraudulent transfers were made. These account holder(s) would be the first to be summoned for investigation purposes in a possible criminal prosecution.

Ultimately, these cases should be investigated in Spain; for this reason and in order to guarantee they are tried in criminal proceedings, any and all complaints should be filed directly with the corresponding criminal courts in Spain.